More Sweden – Part 3: Nordiska Museet

Today was a museum day. Helmut took me to see the Nordiska museet and we were going to see the Aquaria Vattenmuseum (an aquarium and indoor rainforest), but conveniently enough, it is closed on Mondays.

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The Nodiska museum has been open for over a century and is dedicated to Swedish culture. It used to be dedicated to all of Nordic culture, but I guess they ran out of room. Most of the museum consists of Swedish artefacts over the centuries showing how life has changed for the Swedes. The first exhibit we looked at focused on the Sámi people, the indigenous people of Scandinavia. It talked about the traditions of the people that still persist to this day, such as reindeer wrangling, coloured hats and coats.

Among slightly more modern Swedish exhibits, the museum focused a lot on everyday life of peasants, as the museum founder believed they were the essence of Swedish culture. I must say I agree. Kings and noblefolk have done important stuff, but the true definition of Swede were lies in everyday people.

This museum also did a good job of making rich people look really pretentious. Yes, that is a cake of pure marzipan coated in 24-carat gold. Yes, peasants were forbidden from eating it. Swedes are very big on coffee and cake, or Kafe und Kuchen, as my dad would call it. There were very specific rules for eating cakes: serve the light cakes first, then the rich ones, then the biscuits, and you usually take one of each. Helmut told me in Germany it’s the opposite: eat the best first, and take more than one if you want to. Apparently it’s funny when his German friends come to visit.

There was also a section on the elderly of Sweden and how they are taken care of and how their technology has changed over the years. I quite enjoyed this telephone with speed-dial pictures on it.

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The museum  continued with an exhibit with thousands of pieces of jewellery, which was only a small portion of the jewellery collection the Nordiska has. Here are a couple of my favourites. (For Harry Potter fans, in case you were wondering, the second picture is a collection of diadems)

 

The next exhibit was on Swedish fashion through the years, which, other than the Sami clothing, was very similar to European fashion trends over the centuries.

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Reminds me of Clara in Back to the Future.

The final exhibit on Swedish life was on holidays and traditions. A lot of Swedish holidays are related to the church, such as Christmas, Easter and various events leading up to them. Swedish children have a sort of Halloween on the Thursday before Good Friday, where they paint their faces and collect candy. The original idea was to drive out witches and evil spirits before Easter. They also have lots of traditions involving candles, symbolizing a new light coming forth on Christmas and Easter.

There was also one temporary exhibit we looked at which was dedicated to Sugar. It discussed the history of cane sugar and its consumption (one Swedish king nearly lost all his teeth) and various statistics on today’s sugar consumption by Sweden. Apparently Swedes consume the most sugar per capita, which sort of makes sense, they have a cake for every occasion.

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After that, we wandered back through the rainy streets on Stockholm, into NK (a fancy Swedish store) and through a shopping centre until we were dried off. We walked passed the Nobel awards hall, back towards the train station, and headed home to Södertälje.

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